The Science of Our Mind and Success

The autumn signalling the start of school must be deeply ingrained from childhood; in the fall, I often find myself looking for something new to learn, another area in which I can educate myself.  This year, I find myself fascinated with how our minds affect our success.

Someone once described the conscious mind as 5% of our ability to create things in our lives, leaving the subconscious mind to take care of 95% of it.  The analogy drawn was of someone on one of those hand-pump rail cars that the railroad workers used to get down the track (this is us and our conscious mind).  The subconscious mind is like a freight engine. Since your conscious and subconscious are coupled together in one mind/body, the two are always either working together or against each other. 

If you’re pumping furiously away on your hand-driven cart trying to reach a goal, but the freight engine of your subconscious has been put in motion in the opposite direction, you’ll never reach your destination!  In our lives, this looks like self-sabotage, a disconnect between words and actions, negative beliefs and messaging, or a feeling of constantly paddling upstream against a rapid current.

On the other hand, if you’re pumping diligently toward a set goal and the freight engine is behind you, pushing you in the same direction, you’ll be flying! When this occurs we often describe it as “being in the flow,” “divine intervention,” “pieces magically falling into place,” or “kismet.”

So how do we get that freight engine working for us rather than against us? To start with, consider:

  • Our mindsets have more to do with our success than we like to admit.  By being more aware of our mindset and adjusting it as needed, we can speed up our progress.
  • We create two stories simultaneously in our lives: the surface story that we run our lives with conscious intentions and aspirations, and the shadow story that ghost-writes our behaviors.
  • To resolve a troubling or recurring “story”, we first need to learn from it, then create a new narrative for our current context.
  • Being able to regulate our state of mind (e.g., creative, concentration, etc.) and manage our emotions allows us to be more effective.
  • Emotional valuation can overwrite logical valuation.